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Bradford City v Manchester United U21 - Papa John’s Trophy

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Fan Focus: Bradford fan Labeeb discusses the EFL Trophy & Derek Adams ahead of Sunderland clash!

Ahead of Sunderland’s final group stage match in the EFL Trophy, we spoke to Bradford fan Labeeb Aslam to discuss his team’s underwhelming start to this season.

Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Matthew Crichton: Despite being favourites for promotion in the summer, Bradford currently sit at mid-table in League Two - what has gone wrong so far?

Labeeb Aslam: I think it’s been a case of realising that although we have a decent squad, the new manager still needs to bed in his ideas and philosophies.

He has changed his formation, going from a 4-2-3-1 to a 5-3-2 more recently. It’s a case of taking some time to work out the best system for the squad we have. We’ve been a little unlucky with injuries, which then shows the lack of depth we currently have.

MC: Derek Adams was seen as a marquee appointment after guiding Morecambe to promotion last season, does he still have the support of the fanbase?

LA: By and large yes. I think most fans see this as a time of transition and re-building. He has now re-structured parts of the club (e.g. recruitment) to a setup he wants, so I hope that will pay dividends in the next couple of transfer windows.

MC: Many pundits Bradford are far too big a club to be in League Two, are you still confident of achieving promotion this season?

LA: No. I think it’s perhaps too much ground to make up. We may possibly be capable of improving in the second half of the season but I think a playoff spot is the best we can hope for. I don’t think, at the present time, we’re consistent enough.

Sunderland v Bradford City - Sky Bet League One
Sunderland beat Bradford 2-0 when the two sides last met on Boxing Day 2018.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

MC: Bradford signed 10 new players in the summer, which players have impressed you the most and why?

LA: Liam Ridehalgh has played well so far, looks steady at left back, out injured currently. The player that has impressed me the most has been a player we signed last season – Levi Sutton. Great player.

MC: On the other hand, which players have been disappointing?

LA: Oscar Threlkeld hasn’t disappointed as such, but he’s not as good as I expected him to be. Yann Songo’s looks steady enough, but to be honest, I was expecting them both to set this league alight.

MC: Bradford are already out of this competition having lost the first two matches 3-0, have the club taken a less serious approach to the EFL Trophy this season?

LA: Possibly. The first game we lost to Lincoln City and lost quite easily. They were far better than us and the gulf between L1 and L2 was clear. We didn’t necessarily play a much weaker side.

We then lost to Man United who again were far better. However, the main priority has always been getting us out of this league, and personally speaking, the sooner we’re out of this competition, the better.

Bradford City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
A rare Jack Baldwin goal came when Sunderland last beat Bradford away from home in 2018.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

MC: What style of play can Sunderland expect from Adams’ side?

LA: Depends on which lineup he goes for. As we’re already out, I expect him to make as many changes as he is allowed in order to concentrate on the next league game away to Port Vale.

A Derek Adams team usually plays a game of attrition, so I don’t expect us to have lots of possession or to play an open, attacking creative game. It will be about defending well and playing on the break.

MC: Who are the eleven Bradford players that you expect to start?

LA: Clueless on this one – how many changes is Adams allowed to make?

Why would he play a full strength team when it’s a meaningless game. If he could make 11 changes, I’m sure he would.

I’d like to see some of the younger players featured – Hornby, Staunton, Foulds, Scales, Cousin Dawson and maybe a starting spot for veteran Gareth Evans.

MC: Sunderland did the double over Bradford when the two sides last met in League One a few years back, what is your honest prediction of the score this time around?

LA: 2-0 Sunderland. To be fair, when you did the double over us, that game at SoL on Boxing Day was a travesty. We were denied a clear goal by some terrible officiating. Ball clearly crossed the line and we should have come away with a point that day.


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